Reading List Council’s 2022 Reading List: Year’s Best in Genre Fiction for Adult Readers

The 2022 Reading List: Year’s best in genre fiction for adult readers has been announced by the Reading List Council. The list of winners was unveiled January 23 during the Book & Media Awards Virtual Ceremony of the American Library Association’s LibLearnX. The annual best-of list is comprised of eight different fiction genres for adult readers. A shortlist of honor titles, up to 4 per genre was also announced.

The Reading List Council includes fourteen expert readers’ advisory and collection development librarians. The eight genres currently included in the Council’s considerations are adrenaline, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and relationship fiction. 

The Fantasy book at the top the list is A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark. Becky Chambers’ A Psalm for the Wild-Built heads the list of Science Fiction. Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth is first on the Horror list.  

The 2022 selections are:

Adrenaline

Winner

  • Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby (Flatiron Books)

Husbands Derek and Isaiah were estranged from their fathers, but after the couple is gunned down, ex-cons Ike and Buddy Lee seek personal redemption and bloody justice for their sons in this gritty, vengeance-fueled thriller.

Short List

  • Bullet Train: A Novel by K?tar? Isaka, translated by Sam Malissa (The Overlook Press, an imprint of ABRAMS)
  • Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian (Park Row Books)
  • The Push: A Novel by Ashley Audrain (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • Red Widow: A Novel by Alma Katsu (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

Fantasy

Winner

  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (A Tordotcom Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)

In an alternate 1912 Cairo, where the magical and the mundane collide, Agent Fatma el-Sha’arawi teams up with a new partner and seeks help from the djinn as she investigates the massacre of a mysterious cult and races to stop a fake prophet who threatens to reshape the world.

Short List

  • Black Water Sister by Zen Cho (Ace, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman (A Tor Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)
  • When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo (A Tordotcom Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)
  • The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec (Ace, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

Historical fiction

Winner

  • The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris (Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.)

Immediately after the Civil War, a grieving white couple and formerly enslaved brothers come together to form an unexpected friendship and vision for working the land. Their small Georgia community is skeptical and even horrified at the arrangement and as the summer unfolds, secrets are revealed with tragic consequences.

Short List

  • Daughters of Sparta: A Novel by Claire Heywood (Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter (Avid Reader Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
  • The Rose Code: A Novel by Kate Quinn (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
  • A Tip for the Hangman: A Novel by Allison Epstein (Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)

Horror

Winner

  • Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw (A Nightfire Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)

A wedding party camped in a crumbling Japanese mansion falls prey to their own creeping dread and the encircling y?kai–hungry inhabitants led by a ghostly bride. She was buried alive long, long ago, and she has been lonely.

Short List

  • The Death of Jane Lawrence: A Novel by Caitlin Starling (St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group)
  • My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones (Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
  • Near the Bone by Christina Henry (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • This Thing Between Us: A Novel by Gus Moreno (MCD x FSG Originals, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Mystery

Winner

  • Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala (Berkley Prime Crime, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

Lila Macapagal reluctantly returns to her hometown to help with her family’s struggling Filipino restaurant, only to have a food critic – her ex-boyfriend – drop dead. A prime suspect, Lila spars with Detective Park while her best friend and nosy aunties help clear her name in this charming, cozy series starter.

Short List

  • Grave Reservations: A Novel by Cherie Priest (Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
  • The Jigsaw Man: A Novel by Nadine Matheson (Hanover Square Press)
  • Sleep Well, My Lady by Kwei Quartey (Soho Press, Inc.)
  • Under Color of Law by Aaron Philip Clark (Thomas & Mercer)

Relationship fiction

Winner

  • The Guncle: A Novel by Steven Rowley (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

Patrick, a former sitcom star sequestered in Palm Springs, temporarily takes in his young niece and nephew after their mother’s death. Over the summer Gay Uncle (Guncle) Patrick is drawn out of his self-imposed isolation as he and the kids cope with their grief in this exuberant, witty, heartwarming story.

Short List

  • Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • The Reading List: A Novel by Sara Nisha Adams (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Sorrow and Bliss: A Novel by Meg Mason (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan (HQN)

Romance

Winner

  • One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group)

Recently arrived in New York, August Landry is mesmerized by her impossibly cool fellow Q train rider Jane Su. With Jane stuck out of time and unable to leave the train, August resurrects old skills to uncover the truth and save Jane in this sweet and sexy timeslip romance.

Short List

The Charm Offensive: A Novel by Alison Cochrun (Atria Paperback, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod (Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks)
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (A Jove Book, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
For the Love of April French by Penny Aimes (Carina Press)

Science fiction

Winner

  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (A Tordotcom Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)

In a post-collapse utopia, nomadic tea monk Dex spends their days visiting small villages providing respite from everyday life. Encountering the first robot anyone has seen since robots left human society, the two journey together. This gentle, tender story examines the roots of personal dissatisfaction and the joys of community.

Short List

  • Day Zero: A Novel by C. Robert Cargill (Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Project Hail Mary: A Novel by Andy Weir (Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • One Day All This Will Be Yours by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris, an imprint of Rebellion Publishing Ltd)
  • Unity by Elly Bangs (Tachyon Publications LLC)

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